Gender Inequality and Climate Change


As we have talked about in class and in our labs, climate change is a huge issue that is being approached in different ways. But as we have seen through examples like Hurricane Katrina and the Carteret Islands, there are communities being affected by changes in their environment, due to climate change, who are not receiving the help they need. Most often, a technological or economical approach is taken when addressing the issue of climate change and Rachel Masika, an international development consultant who has worked at universities in England, says this of these approaches and policies, “ They have displayed scant regard for the social implications of climate change outcomes and the threats these pose for poor men and women… [and for] gender specific implications … on human, food, and livelihood security…”

People who live in poverty, especially women, are the most at risk of the effects of climate change. Merril Singer describes some of the concrete results that climate change in her article, “Climate Change Isn’t Gender Neutral”. Women are often the main household health provider, and when their lives are affected by climate change, their family’s and their own health is put at risk. Malnutrition among women can also increase their chances of having infections and problems during pregnancy. When women are completely uprooted changes in their environment and become climate refugees, they are more susceptible to theft, violence, or rape.

Currently there are a few organizations who are committed to changing the way we tackle the issue of climate change so that more social issues are included. One such organization, Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA), lists its 4 main goals on their website:

1. Integrate a gender perspective into policy and decision making in order to ensure international mandates and other legal instruments on gender equality are fully implemented.

2. Ensure that financing mechanisms on mitigation and adaptation address the needs of poor women and men equitably.

3. Build capacity at all levels to design and implement gender-responsive climate change policies, strategies and programmes.

4. Develop, compile, and share practical tools, information, and methodologies to facilitate the integration of gender into policy and programming.